BY KATHERINE BRADSTREET
SYDNEY — At a public meeting on May 8, representatives of the Greens, the Democrats and the ALP confirmed that their parties would block further plans to deregulate higher education through education minister Brendan Nelson's current "review" of the sector.
The Nelson review is expected to recommend an increase in the percentage of education funding coming from students. The package contains a proposal to implement partial deregulation of student fees for some courses. This will allow universities to decide how much they charge with the likely effect being massive increases in fees across the entire sector.
Currently, students pay a set amount determined by the course they are studying, not by what university they attend.
Another proposal is to charge market interest rates on the fees above that covered by the Higher Education Contribution Scheme. Another proposal would link research grants to non-union individual workplace agreements.
The 300-strong meeting, organised by the Public Education Alliance, roundly condemned the proposal. The speakers included deputy ALP leader Jenny Macklin, Greens senator Kerry Nettle, Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja, who all pledged to oppose the proposals in the Senate, and Australian Council of Trade Unions assistant-secretary Richard Marles.
From Green Left Weekly, May 14, 2003.
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